"We have a lot of lessons learned, but we are out pounding the pavement with very targeted business strategies geared towards tenants that we think are a really good fit for Arlington," said Marian Marquez, Acting Deputy Director of Arlington Economic Development (AED).
Following the overview from AED, panelists discussed the appeal of Arlington, the support they have received from the County throughout their transition, the ripple effects of their relocation to the surrounding area, the Arlington talent pool, and what is on the horizon for their companies in Arlington.
Regarding The Boeing Company's reasoning for relocating, Randy Sheppard, Senior Director of Human Resources for The Boeing Company said, "All of our businesses intersect here. 150 of our customers and countries that we work with intersect in this area."
In addition to official support both from state and local governments, these businesses received ongoing support from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Arlington Economic Development, Arlington County, and the National Landing and Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts throughout the overall process of moving to the area.
Nestlé moved their U.S. headquarters from California to Arlington in 2018. The headquarters office is located in the Rosslyn City Center.
"Virginia really has a government that cares at the state level, the county level, and the local level, said Hanna Abou-el-Seoud, Director of Government Affairs at Nestlé.
"Relationships are everything," said Sheppard. "The Boeing Company is thankful for the Chamber's leadership and is proud to work with them. The connections that we create in the community are how we get things done."
A major appeal for all three companies that was highlighted throughout the event was Arlington's rich assets, including the talent base and education systems. Arlington is one of the most highly educated communities in the nation; 75 percent of Arlington residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, and 40 percent have advanced degrees. There are many higher education institutions ranging from community colleges to public and private universities in the area that are beneficial to these companies. Through partnerships with these local universities, these companies were able to utilize and expand these facilities and cultivate future talent for their companies.
"The tech talent is huge in Arlington and throughout Northern Virginia," said Patrick Phillippi, Senior Manager of Community Engagement at Amazon. "Beyond that, we have big goals for diversifying our workforce. Amazon is committed to DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), so it's not only about the talent for us. We know that the future of Amazon is a diverse company."
Another element that appealed to these companies was the transportation and logistical advantages that Arlington offers. These companies now have access to not one, but two major airports, the metro and bus system, walkable downtowns, and other modes of transportation. These proved to be an important factor when considering their locational criteria in relocation or expansion for their company.
"Transportation in this area is one thing that can't be undersold, it's incredibly unique," said Abou-el-Seoud. "The younger talent looks for accessibility and it improves the quality of life for our employees."
When discussing the future plans and growth in Arlington, the panelists highlighted sustainability, continued engagement within the community, and excitement for projects on the horizon.
"It's been four years, but we are just at the beginning of our journey here," said Phillippi. "When the Metropolitan Park opens next year, that will be a really huge moment for us. We are now at 5,000 Amazonians and continue to grow, so that is really exciting for us as well."
In closing, moderator Andrew Painter, Shareholder with Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, and Walsh highlighted the positive momentum in Arlington, despite the current commercial office vacancy, "Our sustainability, diversity and equity, education, physically built environment from the state all the way down to the local level, are very positive things for any company that will join these three fabulous companies in the area."
This was the first event of its kind from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and underlined how important a strong business community is to Arlington's success. "These organizations are vital to the health of not only the Arlington business community but to Arlington County as a whole," said Kate Bates, President & CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. "Whether we care about great schools, social services, libraries, or parks, we need the business community to be thriving for the commercial tax base to help fund those priorities. The Arlington Chamber is committed to continuing to advocate for Arlington County to be the best place for businesses of all sizes."